While lining up in the passport control hall in Dubai for a couple of hours, I had time to watch the moving advertisements many times over. My impression was that this booming metropolis of the Middle East is like New York and Orlando meshed together with its combination of business and finance mixed with entertainment centers galore. I was not far off.
Driving down the main 14-lane highway through the center of the city with massive new skyscrapers on each side, I felt like I was in a scene from Disney’s movie Tron. Outside of rush hours the traffic moves fast and you better keep up or you will end up in an accident. After 45 minutes of speeding through the concrete jungle, I find myself in the middle of desert which is where my first customer that I am visiting is located.
They are a large manufacturer who is planning to double their output capacity in the next two years. They have big plans and moving fast which is par for the course in this part of the world but they also have a great need for business intelligence to track and analyze in order to make informed decisions. Today they are primarily tracking their strategic objectives and key performance indicators manually and reviewing them monthly with no real visibility on a daily or even weekly basis. Labor intensive manual dashboards are being created in Microsoft Word and printed on poster size charts that sit in managers’ offices.
While the need for automated and visual Business Intelligence using tools like Xcelsius may appear obvious, the main ERP and production applications are still being rolled out and have an even higher priority than BI. In addition, they have defined standards for which technology should be used for their future BI solutions.
After spending time listening to the Project Manager responsible for the current manual dashboards, I realize that the final BI solution will take time and it will need to be implemented step by step and synchronized with all the other projects in progress. To try to fast track the solution would be a mistake and probably lead to inaccurate results which in turn would result to its rejection and demise.
Replacing manual systems with slick BI solutions may lead to dazzling and cool looking visual interfaces but the foundation must be solid and the functionality that exists in the manual system must all be there.
Even in a place like Dubai where massive buildings seem to appear overnight, the foundation and design must be solid or they will all just come crumbling down.